American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon Author Steven Rinella
ISBN-10 0385521693
ISBN-13 9780385521697
Year 2009-09-15
Pages 304
Language English
Publisher Spiegel & Grau
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From the host of the Travel Channels The Wild Within A hunt for the American buffaloan adventurous fascinating examination of an animal that has haunted the American imagination In 2005 Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a wild buffalo or American bison in the Alaskan wilderness Despite the oddstheres only a 2 percent chance of drawing the permit and fewer than 20 percent of those hunters are successfulRinella managed to kill a buffalo on a snow covered mountainside and then raft the meat back to civilization while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia Throughout these adventures Rinella found himself contemplating his own place among the 14 000 years worth of buffalo hunters in North America as well as the buffalos place in the American experience At the time of the Revolutionary War North America was home to approximately 40 million buffalo the largest herd of big mammals on the planet but by the mid 1890s only a few hundred remained Now that the buffalo is on the verge of a dramatic ecological recovery across the West Americans are faced with the challenge of how and if we can dare to share our land with a beast that is the embodiment of the American wilderness American Buffalo is a narrative tale of Rinellas hunt But beyond that it is the story of the many ways in which the buffalo has shaped our national identity Rinella takes us across the continent in search of the buffalos past present and future to the Bering Land Bridge where scientists search for buffalo bones amid artifacts of the New Worlds earliest human inhabitants to buffalo jumps where Native Americans once ran buffalo over cliffs by the thousands to the Detroit Carbon works a bone charcoal plant that made fortunes in the late 1800s by turning millions of tons of buffalo bones into bone meal black dye and fine china and even to an abattoir turned fashion mecca in Manhattans Meatpacking District where a depressed buffalo named Black Diamond met his fate after serving as the model for the American nickel Rinellas erudition and exuberance combined with his gift for storytelling make him the perfect guide for a book that combines outdoor adventure with a quirky blend of facts and observations about history biology and the natural world Both a captivating narrative and a book of environmental and historical significance American Buffalo tells us as much about ourselves as Americans as it does about the creature who perhaps best of all embodies the American ethos

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